Shavuos, Kabbolas Hatorah — it's in the air.
Every rebbe, every teacher, is trying to instill into his
talmidim the importance and relevance of the Sinai
experience, attempting to develop a true ahavas haTorah
and ahavas hamitzvos. The frightening thought is
the ever growing number of our youth who sit apathetically
through such classes, who have no interest in limud
haTorah or shmiras hamitzvos, youth who have
jettisoned their Yiddishkiet or at least a large part
of it. Often they might still put up a front of observance
but really they are not keeping anything.
Too many of us are familiar with this syndrome: lack of
interest, boredom, idleness, no hat or jacket leading to
casual clothes . . . and the downward slide. The causes are
numerous but the result is always the same; an angry,
disillusioned and non-motivated young man lost on the high
seas of life. Thia causes terrible pain for the family, is a
serious source of worry for community leaders and a fear for
every parent, but what can be done? How can we change someone
not interested in change?
This year, we met seventy young men eagerly awaiting the
opportunity to be "mekabal the Torah." Seventy young
men who last year were typical of the boy described above and
this year are typical of our yeshiva world. What happened?
They came to Kesher.
Kesher, a Yerushalayim-based yeshiva established specifically
to help these youth, is now in it seventh year. A
tremendously innovative hybrid of a regular yeshiva
atmosphere with a therapeutic/recreational program provide
the wonder recipe.
Kesher has regular gemara shiurim, halacha, and
hashkofoh — together with many one-on-one
sessions with tutors. Every talmid has a personalized
schedule designed specifically for his needs. The beis
hamedrash houses an exclusive kollel whose members
dedicate one hour a day to learn with a Kesher boy. The
results of this system are startling.
Hand in hand with the Torah learning is a therapy program
headed by Huna Friedland, the well-known therapist. Supported
by a staff of four, including the renowned Yona Pollock and
Dr. Avigdor Bonchek, a clinical psychologist and a former
professor at Hebrew university, this department is central to
the development of the boys. Everyone has at least one
private session plus one group therapy per-week to help sort
out his issues and teach the talmidim how to deal with
life. The students gravitate to these sessions like to a
magnet and all credit much of the change to these
The third arm of Kesher is a state-of-the-art exercise room,
a music studio, a fully equipped recreation room and a
computer room. These enable students to turn free time into
productive time and create a good atmosphere. Exciting
tiyulim and field trips, crowned by five days in
Poland turning the past into the future, complete the picture
of Kesher. Not to forget, of course, the excellent food.
"The greatest year of my life," "The happiest year of my
life," "The most important year of my life," commented all
the boys when asked what Kesher means to them. "Today I am
happy," "Now I am motivated," "Life suddenly has meaning" and
all together: "There is no family like the Kesher family." As
soon as one enters the door one can sense the electricity in
the air, the whole building seems to be moving.
We met the roshei yeshiva Reb Michoel Schoen and Reb Yaacov
Bradpiece both with a history of some thirty years in
chinuch. They are obviously very proud of their
achievements. "The work requires tremendous patience and a
firm belief in the boys, but when the results start to appear
everything was worthwhile," they said. Come and looking
around. You'll understand.
Kesher is located at Rechov Hamaasef 9, Jerusalem. Tel 972-2-
537-8180; Fax: 972-2-537-8778. Email: